Stolen medals mys­te­ri­ously re­turned


Medals stolen from a for­mer New Zealand Army Ma­jor - who was too dev­as­tated to at­tend Anzac Day with­out them - have been re­turned to his Porirua home un­der cover of dark­ness.

Ear­lier this year, Steven Heller, 58, was so dis­mayed to find some­one had pinched eight medals span­ning his 27 years of mil­i­tary ser­vice in the New Zealand and Aus­tralian de­fence forces from his home that he did not at­tend an Anzac Day cer­e­mony for the first time in half a cen­tury.

But he was filled with re­lief when his part­ner found the un­harmed medals, along with a stolen for­mal jacket, rolled up in a plas­tic bag left at his front door early on Thurs­day morn­ing.

‘‘She was won­der­ing why our cat wasn’t go­ing out­side the cat door. She thought it might have been stuck,’’ Heller said.

‘‘Ev­ery­thing’s in the same con­di­tion as I left it in my wardrobe. It was quite emo­tional for me.’’

He felt ‘‘fairly con­fi­dent’’ who­ever had taken the medals would not be able to do much with them thanks to their unique­ness, as well as the ac­com­pa­ny­ing me­dia at­ten­tion.

‘‘But I was hop­ing be­yond hope they hadn’t just biffed them in the bin.’’

The medals in­cluded recog- ni­tion of Heller’s time served with the Aus­tralian De­fence Force, with the North At­lantic Treaty Or­gan­i­sa­tion (Nato) for work in the for­mer Yu­goslavia, and in var­i­ous other hot spots.

They were at­tached to a sports blazer.

Heller, who now works for the Min­istry of Vul­ner­a­ble Chil­dren, Oranga Ta­mariki, said the last time he wore them was to a funeral in Jan­uary.

‘‘It’s a jacket that no-one else has got, and there’s quite a few peo­ple in the army who know who wears it. There’s no point in try­ing to wear it any­where, peo­ple would know who it be­longs to.’’

They were only kept in one place, there were no signs of forced en­try, and the home was alarmed - the code for which has now been changed.

Heller had at­tended Anzac Day events since he was 5 years old.

He was in­tro­duced to the com­mem­o­ra­tions by his grand­fa­ther, who fought in World War II.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.